This book features a learned and fascinating debate between two great Bible scholars about the New Testament as a reliable source on the historical Jesus. Bart Ehrman, an agnostic New Testament scholar, debates Craig Evans, an evangelical New Testament scholar, about the historical Jesus and what constitutes ""history."" Their interaction includes such compelling questions as: What are sound methods of historical investigation? What are reliable criteria for determining the authenticity of an ancient text? What roles do reason and inference play? And, of course, interpretation? Readers of this debate—regardless of their interpretive inclinations and biases—are sure to find some confirmation of their existing beliefs, but they will surely also find an honest and well-informed challenge to the way they think about the historical Jesus.
The result? A more open, better informed, and questioning mind, which is better prepared for discovering both truth and contrivance. The debate between Ehrman and Evans along with Stewart's introductory framework make this book an excellent primer to the study of the historical Jesus, and readers will come away with a deeper appreciation for the ongoing quest for the historical Jesus.
“Bart Ehrman and Craig Evans are two of the most highly respected scholars working in the field of historical Jesus studies today. They agree on a great deal, but render strikingly different verdicts on the reliability of historical information reported in the New Testament Gospels. This book allows us to listen in on their lively discussion—more dialogue than debate—and to decide not only what we think but also why it matters. Many Christian believers will want to engage these questions, and Robert Stewart has provided us with a helpful guide for doing so.” —Mark Allan Powell, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
“In this highly readable presentation of a discussion between two well-respected biblical scholars, readers encounter two different approaches to the reliability of the Bible for historical veracity. Ehrman is more skeptical, Evans more trusting of how much actual historical ‘fact’ is presented in the New Testament about, for instance, the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Their two positions are well-presented and clearly argued, with assurances of mutual respect. Their discussion is framed by an introduction and conclusion by the moderator, Robert Stewart, who introduces attention to theory and philosophy of historiography, as well as more recent developments in historical Jesus studies. The book is a short but fair illustration of a long-running and still lively modern disagreement.” —Dale B. Martin, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Yale University
“In this book, two eminent scholars of early Christianity, Bart Ehrman and Craig Evans, come head to head in an epic debate about whether the New Testament provides a historically reliable account of Jesus. Much is at stake on this, for history, for religion, and neither holds back in setting forth the case for or against the Jesus of the Gospels. Informative, riveting, and truly eye-opening. History buffs and the religiously minded will enjoy this book.” —Rev. Dr. Michael F. Bird, Academic Dean and Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia
“What happens when two seasoned, informed, and confident scholars weigh in from different angles about the historical Jesus and the reliability of the Gospels? In this splendid volume you will not find acrimony but reasoned, balanced, and charitable arguments -- from both sides -- leading in this book to a demonstration of what we need most: civil discourse! Bravo.” –Rev. Canon Dr. Scot McKnight